Gene Bertoncini/Jack Wilkins: Just the Two of Us
Chiaroscuro Records continues please jazz fans by recording and releasing live performances from the annual Floating Jazz Festival. This session brings together two of the more accomplished contemporary jazz guitar players. Gene Bertoncini is comfortable in the duo setting having made several well-known recordings with long time associate bassist Michael Moore. Jack Wilkins who may not be as well known, is no stranger to the duo guitar arrangement, having worked with Jimmy Bruno in a twosome guitar setting.
The program is made up of familiar, romantic standards. But the major role these tunes have is to provide the harmonic, chordal structure for these two pros to do some very imaginative improvisation. It could have been any set of musical pieces and the results - - and they are excellent - - would not have been all that different. These artists feed off each other's ideas and those ideas never get stale. They return to the melody line from time to time just to remind the listener what they're playing. Hear them on the old war-horse "Cry Me a River" where they offer mutual challenges to better than what went on before. The playing is, as one would expect, intimate. But the word "intimate" is used more in the sense of comradely rather than soft and personal. While some cuts are delicate, others are boldly performed, such as the up tempo version of "Gone with the Wind." There's a bit of cleverness here as "A Night in Tunisia" in worked in to "The Shadow of Your Smile.".strange musical bed fellows indeed, but pulled off with aplomb. On the aforementioned gentle side, "Here's That Rainy Day" starts as a lovely baroque like sonata before it seques into a flowing conversation between the two.
Chiaroscuro shows its usual generosity by extending the playing time beyond 70 minutes. Kudos must also go to the audience who were obviously quietly attentive throughout the set making no extraneous noises. This is a good album by two of the best in the business and is recommended.
Track Listing: Lover Man; How Deep Is the Ocean; Cry Me a River; Gone with the Wind; Spring Is Here; Manha de Carnival; You Stepped out of a Dream; Here's That Rainy Day; Embraceable You; The Shadow of our Smile.
Personnel: Gene Bertoncini: guitar; Jack Wilkins: guitar.